Kush Arora

The Dread Bass Chronicles

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Kush Arora calls his music "futuristic dancehall," and that's about as good a designation as any. The seventh release on his personal label finds him collaborating with MCs Warrior Queen, Juakali, Zulu, Nysa, Wiseproof, and Bongo Chilli; unsurprisingly, the beats are consistent in quality and the rapping and toasting are a bit less so. When Warrior Queen informs us that "making money is my intention" on the opening track, we nod wearily and wait (in vain) for her to tell us something we haven't heard a thousand times before along those mercenary lines. Nor, frankly, is Kush Arora's groove especially innovative on that track. Things quickly get better, though, with "Lose Control," on which MC Zulu indulges in more by-the-numbers dancehall chest-pounding, but is accompanied by a more complex and interesting rhythm. Bongo Chilli makes fine use of a cool, dark dubstep backing track on "The Truth," and he takes turns with Wiseproof and MC Zulu exploring variations on the same rhythm for "Wine Mek Me See You," "Wallflower Flex," and "Poison Pill," respectively -- each manages to give the same rhythm a slightly different twist, Wiseproof taking it in a hip-hop direction while MC Zulu's treatment is more along the lines of mainstream dancehall reggae. Zulu also kills the frantic dubstep groove on "11th Hour Escape," and Nysa takes things out in a creepily intense style on the album-ending "Newcommers." This is compelling and enjoyable listening, even if "fun" isn't the word that pops immediately to mind.

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